New sixth generation fighter engine ends phase of testing

GE Aviation

GE has concluded phase one testing of its second XA100 adaptive cycle engine, a sixth generation fighter engine manufactured as part of the US Air Force’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP).

Phase one testing took place at GE’s Evendale, Ohio, altitude test facility and enabled GE to continue gathering high-quality performance data validating the engine’s transformational propulsion capability.

Phase two tests will begin at the US Air Force’s advanced testing facilities at Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in the first quarter of 2022.

The engine is intended to be used for the F-35 programme as well as USAF’s sixth generation fighter, part of its Next Generation Air Dominance Programme (NGAD).

“Phase one testing allowed us to further characterize the operation of the engine and puts us in a great position to begin Phase two testing at AEDC,” said David Tweedie, GE Edison Works’ general manager for advanced combat engines. “We continue to burn down risk with full-scale engine testing, which is why the XA100 is the lowest risk, most capable, and fastest approach to keep the F-35 a preeminent fighter platform for the long term.”

GE’s XA100 became the world’s first ever flight-weight, three-stream adaptive cycle engine in December 2020 before initiating tests on its second engine in August 2021.

The engine is designed to fit both the F-35A and F-35C without any structural modifications to either airframe, enabling better aircraft range, acceleration, and cooling power to accommodate next-generation mission systems.

The XA100-GE-100 engine combines three key innovations to deliver a generational change in combat propulsion performance:

  1. An adaptive engine cycle that provides both a high-thrust mode for maximum power and a high-efficiency mode for optimum fuel savings and loiter time
  2. A third-stream architecture that provides a step-change in thermal management capability, enabling future mission systems for increased combat effectiveness
  3. Extensive use of advanced component technologies, including ceramic matrix composites (CMC), polymer matrix composites (PMC), and additive manufacturing

These innovations increase thrust 10%, improve fuel efficiency by 25%, and provide significantly more aircraft heat dissipation capacity, all within the same physical envelope as current propulsion systems. The XA100’s improved fuel efficiency provides significant reduction in carbon emissions. The engine will also operate on any US Air Force-approved biofuels.

“Between the step-change fuel efficiency improvement and enhanced durability of our advanced materials, this engine provides the maximum opportunity to increase readiness and reduce operational and lifecycle costs,” Tweedie added. “No upgrade of a legacy propulsion system can simultaneously provide the revolutionary improvements in fuel efficiency, thrust, power and thermal management, and durability as the XA100 engine.”


GE Aviation

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